Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan

Noonan meeting with President Ronald Reagan
Born Margaret Ellen Noonan
September 7, 1950 (1950-09-07) (age 61)
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Occupation Author, columnist, speechwriter
Known for Presidential Speechwriter

Peggy Noonan (born Margaret Ellen Noonan on September 7, 1950, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American author of seven books on politics, religion, and culture and a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal. She was a primary speech writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and in her political writings is considered a Republican.

She is a graduate of Rutherford High School in Rutherford, New Jersey, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.[1]

Five of Noonan's books have been New York Times bestsellers. Noonan is a trustee of the Manhattan Institute. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Miami University; St. John Fisher College; her alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Adelphi College; and Saint Francis College. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on America: A Tribute to Heroes.

In her political writings, Noonan frequently cites the political figures she admires, including Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Edmund Burke.



Noonan married Richard W. Rahn, who was then chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 1985. They lived in Great Falls, Virginia. Their son was born in 1987.[2]

Noonan and her husband were divorced after five years of marriage. In 1989 she returned with her son to her native New York. In 2004, according to an interview with Crisis Magazine, she lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights with her son, who attended the nearby Saint Ann's School.[3]

Noonan currently lives in New York City.[4] In 2010 she bought an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.[5] Noonan is Roman Catholic.[6]

Famous speeches

In 1984, Noonan, as a speechwriter for President Reagan, authored his "Boys of Pointe du Hoc" speech on the 40th anniversary of D-day. She also wrote Reagan's address to the nation after the Challenger explosion, drawing upon the poet John Magee's famous words about aviators who "slipped the surly bonds of earth... and touched the face of God." The latter is ranked as one of the ten best American political speeches of the 20th century according to a list compiled by professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A&M University and based on the opinions of "137 leading scholars of American public address." The "Pointe du Hoc" speech ranks as the 60th best speech of the century.[7]

She also worked on a tribute Reagan gave to honor John F. Kennedy at a fundraising event held at the McLean, Virginia, home of Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the spring of 1984.

Later, while working for then Vice President George H. W. Bush, Noonan coined the phrase "a kinder, gentler nation" and also popularized "a thousand points of light," two memorable catchphrases used by Bush. Noonan also wrote the speech in which Bush pledged: "Read my lips: no new taxes" during his 1988 presidential nomination acceptance speech in New Orleans (Bush's subsequent reversal of this pledge is often cited as a reason for his defeat in his 1992 re-election campaign).


Before the Reagan years, Noonan worked as the daily CBS Radio commentary writer for anchorman Dan Rather at CBS News, whom she once called "the best boss I ever had." From 1975 through 1977 she worked the overnight shift as a newswriter at WEEI Radio in Boston, where she was later Editorial and Public Affairs Director.

In 1978 and 1979 she was an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.[8]

Noonan also worked as a consultant on the American television drama The West Wing.

In mid August 2004, Noonan took a brief unpaid leave from the Wall Street Journal to campaign for George W. Bush's reelection.

Noonan became increasingly critical of the Bush administration after Bush's inaugural address in January 2005.[9][10]

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Noonan wrote about Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy in the Wall Street Journal. In one opinion piece, Noonan expressed her view that Palin did not demonstrate "the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office," concluding that Palin's candidacy marked a "vulgarization in American Politics" that is "no good... for conservatism... [or] the country."[11] Such commentary resulted in a backlash from many conservatives.[12]

Noonan is now an author, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and a commentator on several news shows. She is a member of the Manhattan Institute's board of trustees and one of the founding members, along with Liz Smith, Lesley Stahl, Mary Wells Lawrence and Joni Evans.



  1. ^ About Rutherford High School, Rutherford High School. Accessed July 7, 2007. "Career diplomat and ambassador Thomas H. Pickering and presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan are among those honored as part of this tradition."
  2. ^,9171,967310,00.html Hugh Sidey, "The Presidencey: Of Poets and Word Processors, Time (magazine), May 2, 1988.
  3. ^ Anne Morse, "Meeting Peggy Noonan," Crisis Magazine, September, 2004.[dead link]
  4. ^ Margaret Rahn in Busch/Quayle (sic) Alumni Directory.
  5. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A., "New Taxes For Peggy Noonan" item, "Big Deal" column, page 2 of the "Real Estate" section, The New York Times, April 18, 2010
  6. ^ Noonan, Peggy (April 2, 2010). "The Catholic Church's Catastrophe". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  7. ^ Michael E. Eidenmuller (2009-02-13). "Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century by Rank."". "American Rhetoric. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  8. ^ "Peggy Noonan -". Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  9. ^ Noonan, Peggy (2005-01-21). "Peggy Noonan, "Way Too Much God," ''The Wall Street Journal'', January 21, 2005". Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  10. ^ Noonan, Peggy (2007-07-14). "Peggy Noonan, "American Grit: We can't fire the president right now, so we're waiting it out," ''The Wall Street Journal'', July 13, 2007". Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  11. ^ Noonan, Peggy (October 17, 2008). "Palin's Failin'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  12. ^ Blankley, Tony (2008-10-22). "The Birth of the Me-Too Conservative". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 

External links

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